Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, a 850-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992 when he had a year sober. He's in his 27th year of recovery.

In these posts, he views life mostly through the lenses of recovery. While the blog is factual, he sometimes disguises events and people to protect anonymity.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Discriminating against Addicts

A story in the Prescott Courier shows the average person's lack of knowledge about addictions.

There are facilities in our country that help those with all kinds of diseases. Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and more. They're big business in our society. And there are few complaints when mega-medical services want to open in a community. We welcome the help.

But even though 14% of the U.S. population has a problem with drugs or alcohol or a combination of both, finding help for them isn't easy. Nobody wants a rehab, halfway house, or sober living in their town. And some are so vehement about it that they'll go to court to stop them.

In the Courier story the parents refer to the lack of training of the halfway house manager. They said if he'd been better trained perhaps their son wouldn't have died of an overdose. They may be right.

But a tragic as the loss is, most halfway house managers aren't medically trained. Nor do they have counseling degrees. Their job is usually to see that clients sign in and out. That they keep the house clean. That they pay their rent. They do give drug tests if they think a resident is using. They usually are paid little or nothing; except for maybe free rent.

What this man needed - in my opinion - was to be in a locked treatment facility. At least until he was thoroughly detoxed. That might have kept him from overdosing because he would have been under closer supervision.

The big problem in the addiction world is that many view addiction as a moral issue - rather than a disability. Most neighbors view addicts as criminals, sex offenders, or degenerates. And will openly state that anytime there's a public hearing.

Fortunately the Fair Housing Act and the American's with Disabilities Act protects us addicts from city government and angry neighbors.

If only we treated our addicts and alcoholics with the same compassion and love we treat those with other diseases. That's when we'll know we live in an enlightened society.